The Honourable C Y Leung, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, was Guest of Honour for the Community Flight, joined by Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Ivan Chu to attend the special flight with the residents.
Speaking at the pre-flight ceremony, Mr Chu said: “Harmony and inclusion are Hong Kong’s core values and social solidarity begins at home. In that spirit, ‘Enhancing Family Solidarity’ becomes our theme this year. Today’s flight – and other related activities – is designed to encourage families to show their mutual care.”
The airline worked with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service and five non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – Caritas Joyous Link, Changing Young Lives Foundation, H.K.S.K.H. Lady MacLehose Centre Neighbourhood Level Community Development Project, the Church of United Brethren in Christ Yuen Long Social Service Centre, and the Hong Kong Society for the Blind – to select participants for the community flight.
The NGOs developed their own programmes to encourage creative entries from young people, asking them to work together with their families to demonstrate how they have strived to achieve family solidarity. The creative submissions came in different forms, from ceramic teacups and activity logs to hand puppets, comic strips and sound recordings. This process, coupled with the community flight, enable participants to have a unique and valuable experience in upholding family solidarity.
The community flight took off from Hong Kong International Airport and saw the aircraft circle over the South China Sea for approximately 90 minutes. The families were able to try out the seat features and enjoy the inflight entertainment, as well as tucking into inflight meals. Joining the participants were over 40 Cathay Pacific Volunteers, including cockpit and cabin crew as the Community Flight ambassadors, who provided assistance and shared their aviation knowledge and fun facts with the families.
Veteran CX volunteer Betty Ha said, “Volunteer work usually takes place on the ground. With community flight I got to volunteer on the plane which is a very memorable experience! When I asked the participating families some aviation questions and they answered correctly, they were so excited that they “high-fived” each other. This makes me realize how simple happiness can be and reminds me to treasure the time with my family.”
Eight-year-old ToTo is a first-time flyer. After landing, he said, “The thought of getting on a plane with my mother made me so excited I could not sleep last night! I am so happy talking to the pilot - when I grow up I want to become one and fly with my mother around the world!”
The flight was made possible through the support extended by various government departments and other organisations, including the Transport and Housing Bureau, the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department, the Immigration Department, Airport Authority Hong Kong, and Aviation Security Company Limited.
This is the fifth time Cathay Pacific has operated a community flight. Similar programmes held by the airline in previous years included a flight for Tung Chung residents in 2007, the “English on Air” community flight for Tung Chung youth in 2008, and flights for less-advantaged single-parent families from various districts of Hong Kong in 2013 and 2014.